I know, I haven’t been around much. Unfortunately, this is largely due to the book community and the never-ending anxiety it has started to create.
When I first joined the book community way back in 2010 with the very first incarnation of Keep on Booking, I was in love with the community. We banded together about all the books we read. We bonded. We talked. We supported each other. But that’s all changed and honestly, I’m not even sure when it changed.
Now, instead of being a community where book lovers can come together and talk about their favorite books, the book community has become a whole different entity. An entity where people are judged for the authors they like, the books they like, how many books they’ve read in a period of time, and whether or not they continue to support authors/books that others have deemed “problematic”.
This isn’t how the book community used to be. It’s not how it *should* be. It should be a place where people can read however many and whatever books they want, by whatever authors they want, in whatever format they want, and not have to worry about whether or not they’ll be cancelled because of it.
Readers shouldn’t worry that when they say “I’ve read 8 books this year” they’ll be told they’re not really a reader. I’m sorry, did they read? Yes? Then they’re a reader – it doesn’t matter how many books they read. If they’ve read even one book this year, they’re a reader. Life gets in the way. Some people read slower than others. It’s not our place to say who is or isn’t a reader based on the number of books they read. It also shouldn’t matter if those books are physical books, eBooks, or audiobooks. If they read or listened to it in any way, they read it.
Readers shouldn’t worry that an author or book they like is going to get them cancelled. Do you find J. K. Rowling, Sarah J. Maas, or Emily Duncan (just a few examples of authors I see called problematic/cancelled) offensive or problematic? That’s fine. Do you have a right to your opinion of the author or book? Yes. Do you have a right to tell anyone else not to read that author or book? Absolutely not. Your opinion is just that. YOURS. It is not for you to impose that opinion on others. Yes, you may express your opinion. It looks like this: “Well, personally, I don’t like [author/book] for [reason]. But that’s my opinion, you can do as you like.” Imposing your opinion/cancelling looks like this: “[Author/book] is problematic for [reason] – DO NOT SUPPORT THEM.”
I’m ASHAMED to be a part of the book community now. I’m absolutely embarrassed by being a part of this community. So I’ve logged out. I don’t get on my bookish Instagram. I don’t get on my bookish Twitter. I ignore my Facebook page for this blog. I stay off Goodreads.
I haven’t been able to read for three months. Every time I try to read a book, I end up putting it down and never coming back to it. Why? Because I have to worry if I’m going to be cancelled because I read the book. I have to worry that someone is going to post my accounts all over their social media calling me racist, ableist, anti-Semitic, transphobic, homophobic, etc., because I read a book by an author they feel is too problematic. I have to worry that the book I read isn’t diverse enough to suit the social justice warriors. But I also have to worry that the book was diverse enough, but wasn’t written by the right person, so it’s still bad.
I refuse to deal with that BS any longer. I am no longer part of the social media book community. Do I still have my accounts? Yes. Will I occasionally log on to change my passwords and keep my accounts safe? Yes. Will I ever use them again? Extremely difficult to say.
The book community needs to do better. It needs to take about 20 steps back and pay close attention to the pain, anxiety, and mental health issues it is causing its members. It needs to go back to what it was before – an INCLUSIVE community who DID NOT JUDGE others for who/what/how they read.